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The World of Steampunk Holmes

I've always been a huge fan of William Gibson ever since I read Neuromancer the year it was released (~1984). I've read just about every book he's written. When The Difference Engine came out in 1991 I did as I always do when a new Gibson novel is released, I ran to the book store and purchased it. I was delighted by Gibson's and Sterling's alternative history novel. It was, for me, a totally new form of science fiction but I had no idea it would turn into a genera called "Steampunk" until several years later. I've been listening to the audio version narrated by Simon Vance and I've fallen in love the book all over again. I can see from the ratings that many people would disagree but I consider the book to be one of the best I've ever read.

In Gibson's & Sterling's The Difference Engine Charles Babbage's mechanical computer which he invented in 1822 is actually built and it ushers in the computer age a 130 years earlier than in the real world (in reality Babbage's invention was not built until 1991). The result is pure Steampunk, which is not surprising since this book helped define the genera.

In The Difference Engine mechanical computers, based on Charles Babbage theories, are the size buildings constructed of brass gears and metal springs. The machines are programmed using punch cards as were originally used for mechanical looms. It's really a fantastic dystopia. I can't understand why its not universally accepted as a genera defining masterpiece the same way Lord of the Rings is for fantasy or Neuromancer is for cyberpunk.

Since The Difference Engine has always colored my view of alternative histories and Steampunk I've decided to place Steampunk Holmes in the world created by Gibson and Sterling, but 30 years later. The Difference Engine takes place in 1855 while Sherlock Holmes was doing most of his work around the 1885. This really sets us up for some fun because we get to imagine what technological advances would have taken place in the 30 years between Gibson's & Sterling's alternative history and our own. Where would technology had evolved? What path would it take? Would steam have been replaced by combustion engines? Would the telephone have been invented? What about a crude sort of Internet based on the telegraph? We are going to explore these questions as we develop Steampunk Holmes and hopefully we will do William Gibson and Bruce Sterling proud with our own adaptation.

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